CIO takes over running of elections from the military
ZIMBABWE’S Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has secretly taken over the running of national elections — designed to manipulate the process in favour of the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government — from the military, which has always clandestinely managed polls for decades, security sources told The NewsHawks.
The CIO seized control of the electoral process through a structure called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) led by CIO co-deputy director-general retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi (pictured).
This is not a constitutional or official arrangement, but an underground operational unit campaigning for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in the August general elections.
As a result, Faz has now displaced the army’s structure called Heritage that used to perform a similar role and other functions. In 2018, the army ran elections through Heritage and Africom, a converged communication service provider.
The CIO move and channelling of public resources to its shadowy structure is unconstitutional, legal experts say.
Sources say, so far, Faz has received US$10 million and 200 cars to run its affairs in preparation for elections. More resources have been promised to capacitate the secret structure.
Faz’s mandate, working together with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its chair Priscilla Chigumba, is to coordinate logistics and decisive forces to retain Mnangagwa in power.
This has rattled the army which was previously in charge. One military commander described Faz as a “potential Frankenstein monster” during a conversation with a colleague, sources said.
“Faz, which is a CIO structure, has taken over the running of elections within Zanu PF and nationally,” a source said.
“It is run by Tapfumaneyi and is answerable to the President. It is a dangerous arrangement as this creature, which we don’t even understand, and it may end up being a Frankenstein monster.”
The army and CIO have ongoing fierce rivalry which heightened during the coup in 2017. One CIO senior officer, Peter Munetsi, was killed by the army during the coup.
The situation is worsened by Zanu PF factionalism and an explosive power struggle over the party’s unsettled leadership.
Since the removal of the late former president Robert Mugabe, the leadership question has not been fully addressed, hence occasional eruptions of the problem; the deadly manifestation of the issue being the White City grenade attack in Bulawayo in June 2018.
In his vigorous power consolidation process, Mnangagwa has purged nearly all key members of the coup coalition.
This has left him relatively unchallenged. Even though Mnangagwa won at congress last October, those aligned to co-Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga say the succession battle is not yet over.
Sources say Chiwenga is bitter because Mnangagwa hoodwinked him as they had initially agreed he was going to serve one term and hand over power to his deputy or any other candidate from the army to become state president, subject to elections.
Informed sources said Faz was given the mandate to run the electoral process and elections behind-the-scenes to ensure Mnangagwa and Zanu PF wins.
This means it liaises with Zanu PF, government institutions and electoral agencies on behalf of Mnangagwa and his party to ensure things go right and they win.
This is largely informed by the need to counter a growing fear of “bhora musango” or internal sabotage.
Faz is prepared, like the army always was, to rig the elections for Mnangagwa if need be.
Although it is not a constitutional government body but a CIO operational structure, Faz is funded through state resources. It was given US$10 million in public funds, 200 cars and a number of CIO officers to coordinate its activities to run elections for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF. Its personnel are secretly paid in United States dollars outside the official government payroll.
Tapfumaneyi, a retired brigadier-general, runs Faz and reports directly to Mnangagwa.
As part of election campaigns, Faz has already sent out a large contingent of security operatives to the ground across the country to mobilise votes for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.
The army is also organising and campaigning for Mnangagwa in a minimal way.
These structures have been going around the country holding meetings, mobilising people and putting in place logistics for Mnangagwa’s election campaigns.
Faz was involved in the recent controversial Zanu PF primary elections. Norton Independent MP Temba Mliswa publicly exposed the role of Faz in the Zanu PF primaries where his sister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka lost.
A number of Zanu PF political bigwigs lost in the primaries. Faz was blamed for their defeats.
Tapfumaneyi was instrumental in the formation of Faz in 2010 under the then Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs led by former State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa.
To cover up its mission and activities, Faz officials a small group of young students and members of faculty at Solusi University near Bulawayo founded the organisation to access business and empowerment opportunities then being offered under the government’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme.
This is just a disguise. Faz is a CIO front organisation run by Tapfumaneyi.
Faz was registered as a trust under the then ministry of State for Presidential Affairs before the ministry was dissolved in 2015.
Its founding trustees included Dr Bongani Ngwenya, who was the chairperson but is now in South Africa, Kudakwashe Mavula Munsaka, Kudzaiishe Mangidza and Gillian Shambare.
Other founding trustees were Fungai Jonga, who is now in Spain, Trinity Mashava (Dubai, UAE) and Winfilda Chirango (Australia).
Other people involved are Samson Mangozhe, Brighton, Ruvimbo Tambara and Linda Manda who are in France and South Africa.
Tapfumaneyi has even reportedly put his wife Jessica, a Zanu PF member, and son Valentine Fidel in Faz. Jessica wants to be MP for Zvimba South constituency.
When the ministry of State for Presidential Affairs was dissolved in April 2015, Faz went dormant, but maintained its mission and structure as a CIO front organisation.
On 12 August 2022, Faz Trust submitted an application for affiliate status to Zanu PF in terms of section 16 (2) of the party constitution under Mnangagwa’s instruction to justify getting involved in the party’s affairs.
CIO, police and the army under the Joint Operations Command (Joc) — a relic of the Rhodesia era — play a critical role in Zimbabwean elections. They are the cog in Zanu PF’s campaign and coercive machinery.
As a result, the security agencies will play a central role in this year’s elections.
Mnangagwa needed to first retain his position as Zanu PF leader at congress before being confirmed as the party’s presidential election candidate.
Chiwenga feels betrayed by Mnangagwa as there was a deal before the 2017 coup that the President serves one term and allows his deputy to take over in 2023.
Sources say there was a warning from the CIO and other security agencies that due to Zanu PF factionalism and divisions, as well as economic challenges, the ruling party faced turbulence.
In the run up to the party’s elective congress in October 2022, infighting and fragmentation intensified, putting Mnangagwa in a weaker position than he was in 2018 when he narrowly defeated his main rival, the opposition CCC leader Nelson Chamisa.
Even with the power of incumbency derived from the coup, Mnangagwa only managed to scrape through with 50.8% of the vote in the disputed poll.
Chamisa got 44.3% of the ballot after having had only five months to campaign as he had become his party’s new leader after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai on the eve of elections.
Given the deteriorating economic situation, social problems and government’s failure to deliver on its November 2017 coup promises, as well as Zanu PF internal strife, the CIO thinks Mnangagwa could possibly lose the election and needs a rescue plan. Faz is their intervention.
This situation was later reinforced and worsened by Joint Operations Command (Joc) meetings and reports which constantly expressed concern that the environment was not conducive to Zanu PF and Mnangagwa to win.
Joc, a legacy of the Rhodesian colonial security apparatus which brings together the army, police and intelligence, meets weekly to assess the political, economic and security situation of the country to deal with threats timely.
Apparently, Joc has warned Mnangagwa he could lose elections unless he does something key to change the situation.
Tapfumaneyi then revived Faz and intervened.